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The Mustang was redesigned for the beginning of it's 15th model year. For exposure, Ford offered the new Mustang to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to pace the '79 race. To capitalize on the publicity, Ford produced 10,478 replicas availible for sale during the 1979 model year. All the replicas used many of the same styling cues that were on the actual pace car. Pewter and black paint with orange and red stripes made the car standout in the crowd. Among the differences between the pace car replica and the standard Mustang were a raised cowl induction style hood, a different front facia with horizontal grill bars and a lower front air dam, front fog lights, rear spoiler, TRX handling package with metric sized wheels and tires, black Recaro front seats with black and white checkered inserts on both front and rear seats, and "black chrome" dash inserts with a dash plaque. The buyer had the option of having the "OFFICIAL PACE CAR" decals installed on the side or just left in a box in the back of the car. The availible engine choises were 5.0L V8 (with either a 4spd or automatic) or the new 2.3L turbo (4spd only) Unfortunatly, the Jack Roush prepared 302 in the actual pace car was not offered. There was a BOSS 302 powered one in my neighborhood, back in '81. Every one knew not to mess with pace car that rumbled. The then animic 5.0 could only manage 139hp through its 2bbl and single exhaust. The turbo 4 actually made 1 more horsepower than its V8 sibling. Because the country was in the midst of the late 70's fuel shortage and Ford was pushing turbo power over the V8, about 1500 more 2.3L were sold than its 5.0L big brother (5970 2.3L, 4508 5.0L of which 2106 were AT and 2402 were 4spd) Besides the engine modifications made to the Mustang that actually paced the race, the suspension, brakes, and chassis were modified to handle the speeds required. The car also featured strobe lights in the fog and tail lights and t-top (only a pop-up sunroof was availible on the replica). Famous Grand Prix racing driver and then Ford pitchman Jackie Stewart handled the driving duties. In 1980, the pace car's exterior stylings were used on Mustang Cobra model.

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May 2, 1996

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